Due Respect

5

October 4, 2021- Some one of these days, the old man (me) will take a hike from one rim of the Grand Canyon to the other. Someone I love dearly just accomplished the feat, and as proud as I am of that adventurous soul, I know it will not be her last time doing this. One time or another, I will manage it as well. I may even make it part of an Arizona Trail trek.

I started reading a couple of books dealing with the respect that people ought to inherently have for one another. One is written by a young woman, essentially pointing out what my mother said when we were kids- “A human being is not a toy!” I personally think that everyone ever born has had or has a life plan. Many of the people are physically attractive, one attribute among dozens that a person may incorporate. I hold that everyone is to be educated and guided to make informed choices. The woman who wrote this book chose to place a photo of herself on the back cover. She has a beautiful face and svelte physique-and chose to feature these, while making the point that she will neither hide herself, nor flaunt her attributes. They are part of who she is, and nothing more.

The other book, dealing with subconscious racism and the fear that those who have it-have of it, is written by a woman who faces and is dealing with this phenomenon, as she is experiencing it within herself. I have had to do the same, over the years, in rooting out such biases. Thankfully, people of colour have been forthcoming, and the vast majority have been kind about pointing out how unnecessary such microaggressions and awkward behaviours are. With those encounters, the baggage has been shed.

The point of all this is-I am, and you are, going to keep meeting comely members of the opposite sex, and of own gender, for that matter. We are going to encounter people of other ethnicities and skin tones. The point of most such meetings is in the course of something each is doing, that has nothing to do with romantic exchange, finding a mate or establishing one’s superiority over other people. It has everything to do with being as supportive as possible, of the other person’s hopes and dreams-and their being as supportive as possible of yours.

Friendship is the best, the finest, possible outcome of our random daily encounters. I treasure each such outcome, every chance to support a fellow human in the legitimate elements of her/his life plan.

Beyond “Me, Too”

6

October 17, 2017, Prescott-

Once upon a time, I bought into some, but not all, of the idea that people ought to objectify, idealize, the opposite gender.  This was held true for men and women alike.  The physique was the primary initial attracter, with social skills and hygiene the glue that secured a person’s place, in the eyes of an opposite number.

Mom told me to look for a person of substance.  The intellect was important, and a wide range of interests.  She said that a comely, but shallow, person would not last long in our family- falling away by attrition, not by any malice that would be directed at her. I’ve noticed this has continued, through the four marriages of my siblings and me, the seven marriages of my nieces and nephews, the engagement of my youngest niece and the solid relationship of my son and his lady friend.  Terra Firma has lent herself to our support.

In my post-marital years, there have been a few emotional rough patches.  That comes with the territory.  They have, however, lifted me up and out of the stinky swamp of residual objectification.  By keeping this thing, in the back of my mind, about viewing women in relational terms, I was also objectifying myself.  The current sturm und drang over Hollywood’s sexual predators has had what I consider a bright silver lining.  Women are free to raise the roof, over the long-standing, callous disregard for their total being.  It’s as old as the rise of homo sapiens sapiens, and it’s past time that men, freely and in their own space, create a mindset, a heartset, that truly measures a woman, first and foremost, by her interests, goals and dreams.

I have the privilege, and honour, of working with two dynamic, highly intelligent and personable women, one happily married.  Both are young enough to be my daughters, but no matter.  The success of a team is driven by professional chemistry, with social bonding being of secondary importance.  In that regard, our little team is solid and focused on the well-being, first of our students, then of one another.

I have a further honour : A wealth of friendships, both on and offline.  This drum has been beaten many times before, and I shall not belabour it again.  Suffice it to say, my friendships are neither spurred by physical attraction, nor negated by it.  Each of my friends’ hopes and dreams matter to me, greatly, regardless of any of their personal or physical attributes.  That means dignity comes first.

The antics of celebrity lechers are hitting a brick wall.  May each one of us view ourselves through a lens of accountability and resolve to move further, towards this thing called purity.